What is your vision?” It was 2009, and my new boss, Steven Inchcoombe, had just inspired me with the most wonderful invitation. I was executive editor of Scientific American at the time, and what did I want to do if I could earn the privilege of becoming editor in chief? In my mind's eye, the future opened before me. What did Scientific American need to become now that it had not been in the past, and how could it do that?
Like the seven editors in chief who preceded me since 1845, I believe science is an engine of prosperity. The laptop I'm using right now, our food, clothing, buildings—the expanse of human knowledge itself—all these things were improved through the process we call science. And science underpins the critical challenges that humanity wrestles with today, from cures for our ailments to living sustainably in a finite world. It's just that, as I realized, people don't always call it science, or they don't see the connection between the things they care about and science. My job, I decided, would be about inviting people into science through Scientific American, so they could understand.
Immediately, I asked scientists to join as advisers, to help steer our course; you see them listed below this letter. We redesigned the magazine and Web site in 2010, the better to engage our audiences. We launched a series of education initiatives in 2011 for families and educators. That year we also started our network of lively, independent bloggers to widen the community discussion. In 2012 we added the Scientific American Science in Action Award, powered by the Google Science Fair. I began attending the World Economic Forum meetings in Davos, Switzerland, and in China to share news about innovation with leaders in policy and business, who have always been part of our readership. In July, I also spoke to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation about the value of funding basic research.
In our new Voices blog, edited by blogs editor Curtis Brainard, and in this issue's annual “State of the World's Science,” organized by executive editor Fred Guterl, we take a special look at diversity—how bringing in different perspectives can power science innovation still more for a better future for us all.
And it all started when I realized how inspiring an invitation could be. (Thanks, Steven.)